Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Foundation • Annual Report 2002 

University President Robert R. FurgasonA Message From
University President Robert R. Furgason

The people who know me best, my friends and the faithful supporters of the University, know that I welcome challenges that build our University and educational opportunities for Texas students. In Fall 2002, The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) kicked off one of the most aggressive initiatives yet to encourage young people to pursue higher education, especially those from historically underrepresented groups. This Closing the Gaps initiative represents a tremendous challenge to all Texas pubic universities, including Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Although A&M-Corpus Christi is one of the fastest growing universities in Texas, with unprecedented growth in enrollment, facilities and programs, the leadership of our state are concerned about what they see as gaps in the overall picture of higher education. These four gaps, which exist throughout Texas, are in the areas of enrollment increases, the percentage of successful graduations, the number of nationally recognized programs of excellence, and the level of federal funding for development and research.

The challenges represented by these gaps are challenges I believe our University can and will meet, with the continued support of the Foundation and donors who have risen to help many times in the past whenever this University needed it most.

To close the gap in participation and access, the State asks that 300,000 more students be enrolled in Texas colleges by 2015, bringing the percent of the Texas population enrolled in college from 4.9 to 5.5 percent, which is the average of the 10 most populous states. A&M-Corpus Christi’s enrollment was over 7,700 in Fall 2002, with a projected growth of up to 11,000 students by 2010. From 1990 to 2001, when our student body grew 94 percent, our Hispanic enrollment grew by 125 percent compared to the 47 percent Hispanic enrollment increase statewide. Our African-American students increased 143 percent compared to 31 percent statewide. Thus, we are already demonstrating our commitment to addressing this gap.

To close the gap in success, the goal is to increase the number of degrees granted by 50 percent, especially technology-related degrees. From 1990 to 2001, A&M-Corpus Christi increased its degrees awarded by 32 percent overall, with a 68 percent increase in degrees awarded to Hispanics and a 158 percent increase for African-American students. Of our 19 new degree programs, 13 are in science, technology health care and education. Our College of Science and Technology has grown 300 percent, from 525 majors in 1991 to 2,106 in 2001.

We are well on our way to closing the gap in excellence as measured by an increase in the number of nationally recognized programs and services offered. Distinctions in this area include: the 2001 Star Award from the THECB for our learning communities program for first-year students which has now received a national award; the 2001 “National Role Model Institution” award by Minority Access for recruiting and retaining minority students in the sciences; the National Ethics Bowl Championship in 2000; our nationally acclaimed Early Childhood Development Center; top accreditations for our College of Business undergraduate and graduate programs and the Geographic Information Science program; and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

To close the gap in research, Texas challenges colleges and universities to increase the level of federal research and development funding by 50 percent, or to $1.3 billion by 2015. In the past five years, our research grants have gone from $2.8 million to $10.7 million, a 282 percent increase in five years. We expect this to continue to grow at a substantial rate due to the number of new research initiatives being undertaken at the University.

With the current State deficit estimated at $5 billion, a fifth gap must also be recognized and addressed—the financial gap that exists between what the Texas legislature is able to supply and what is needed to meet the challenge waged by the THECB. We need your help to close this gap. The growth and development of A&M-Corpus Christi has indeed been quite remarkable. It is my hope that our success and progress will be viewed as evidence that an investment in the Island University is a sound investment, an investment that will help meet the challenge of successfully educating the future workforce and leaders of our region and state.